Queen City Nerve

Charlotte's Cultural Pulse

Max and Lola Told to Stop Serving CBD Cocktails
New order not related to upcoming 'crackdown'

By Rhiannon Fionn

February 8, 2019


[Last week, we reported on the new CBD cocktails at Max & Lola Bodega. This week, our media partners at Carolina Cannabis News follow up on reports that the store has since been ordered by law enforcement to stop serving the cocktails.]

Last Saturday night, a little after 11 p.m., just as Max and Lola Bodega was closing, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer stopped by, took some photos and said he’d be in touch. Nothing was confiscated.

“Basically, he looked at all of our CBD stuff and took pictures of our CBD nanowater,” says Minh Lia, co-owner of Max & Lola.

“He came back on Tuesday,” Lia says. “He told me I can’t mix the CBD water in any alcoholic beverage at all. I asked him if he could show me the statute that says we can’t do it and he couldn’t.”

Detective Travis Cook confirms Lia’s account. “I took some pictures because I’d never seen anything like this before,” he says. “I contacted the ABC Commission to see what they were saying about CBD and alcoholic beverages. I found out their opinion and I went back and talked to the folks at Max and Lola.”

In addition to cocktails, beer and wine, Max and Lola’s offers other cannabidiol (CBD) products like pre-rolls, gummies and other products commonly found at area dispensaries. There’s also a mini-grocery with the basics for urban shoppers.

“Everything we sell we have lab results for, and I offered to show him,” says Lia. “He didn’t care to see them.”

Ownership at Max and Lola’s Bodega was ordered to stop selling CBD cocktails by a CMPD officer. (Photo courtesy of Max & Lola’s)

Lia says he asked Cook if he could sell the CBD nanowater and cocktails separately and was told he could. Of course, that was before news broke that the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Customer Service would begin a so-called “crackdown” on CBD-infused foods, drinks and supplements. It’s expected that the state will begin sending letters to producers of CBD-infused products next week.

The move follows similar regulatory efforts in California, Maine, New York, Ohio and some European countries.
The “crackdown” is based on a memo from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued almost immediately after the president signed the 2018 farm bill that legalized hemp at the federal level. (Hemp was already legal in North Carolina thanks to the 2014 farm bill that authorized the state’s industrial hemp pilot program.)

That memo is based on the fact that a U.K.-based pharmaceutical company, GW Pharmaceuticals, received FDA approval for a drug that includes a CBD isolate, Epidiolex. The anti-seizure medication is expected to cost patients $32,000 annually. According to the drug’s website, side effects can include “liver problems,” loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fever, “feeling unwell,” unusual tiredness, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice), itching, unusual darkening of the urine, “right upper stomach area pain or discomfort.”

Possible CBD side effects, according to WebMD: dry mouth, low blood pressure, light headedness and drowsiness.

Whatever the side effects of CBD in it’s isolated form, it’s now considered a drug by the FDA, and therefore under their regulatory jurisdiction. That is why states are pulling CBD products, not because there is all of a sudden something wrong with CBD.

However, it’s not because CBD isolate is now considered a drug that Max and Lola’s aren’t able to continue serving CBD-infused cocktails.

They can’t mix CBD-infused water, or anything else, with alcohol, says CMPD officer Cook, who works in the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Commission unit.

“The ABC Commission told me that no CBD, cannabis or marijuana can be added to alcoholic beverages,” says Cook, so Lia’s lab results don’t matter. “He asked if he could sell them separately and I told him to contact the ABC Commission.”

The rule — 14B NCAC 15B .0218 Adulteration of Malt Beverages and Wine Prohibited — that makes the practice illegal reads, “Except as provided in the ABC laws, no permittee or his employee shall fortify, adulterate, contaminate, or in any manner change the character or purity of a malt beverage, unfortified wine, or fortified wine product from that as originally marketed, packaged, and sealed by the manufacturer or bottler.”

In other words, until the government approves of the mixer, in this case CBD nanowater from Liberty CBD Oil Company of California, it’s illegal to mix it with alcohol.

CBD cocktails at Max & Lola’s Bodega. (Photo courtesy of Max & Lola’s)

Mark Wright, owner of Liberty CBD Company, says his CBD nanowater isn’t on the market yet and only available to some establishments, like Max and Lola Bodega. He’s encouraging North Carolina CBD processors and retailers to stay the course, regardless of the anticipated “crackdown” next week. (For now, that means letters will be mailed on Feb. 11.)

He says his CBD products are not isolates, but full-spectrum, which means they contain other cannabinoids in addition to CBD, like THCV, CBN, CBG … but less than 0.3 percent THC. Sometimes it’s called “whole plant” extract. (Depending on who you ask, there are hundreds of cannabinoids).

“Here in the state of California where cannabis is legal, I can’t even sell my CBD gummies,” he says. “You can’t sell anything that’s CBD consumable. The reason for that is that the state of California is looking to collect taxes; it’s a money grab. But, it’s funny because retailers still do it and they’re not going to stop until someone shows up from the state and makes them stop. They see the ‘crackdown’ as greed. The state wants to tax it like cannabis, which is heavily regulated and taxed. It’s just choking these mom-and-pop companies that started this industry.”

Similar calls for hemp and CBD store owners and processors to push back against the government are coming from others as well, like activists in Maine who recently protested in the state capitol.

“It’s tough for a small business like me,” Lia, owner of Max and Lola, says. “This is really going to hurt us. I’m not even sure we can survive like that. I’ve got thousands and thousands of dollars of inventory I don’t know what to do with now,” he says.

The front of the company’s building is painted with the words “Beer, Wine, CBD.”

“People need to look at where these regulations are coming from and pay close attention,” says Wright, of Liberty CBD. “A lot of it comes from the FDA and pharmaceutical lobbyists. They have a lot of power the small guys don’t have. It’s criminal. These products are safe enough to give to my two-year-old son; they’re a gift from God, really. People need to do what’s right and stand up for their rights to access the hemp plant – it’s amazing.”

[This article originally appeared at Carolina Cannabis News, one of Queen City Nerve‘s media partners. For more news on all things cannabis in the Carolinas, visit their website.]

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